Sunday, 15 May 2011

Latin America integration, Europe and the US

The vast majority of Latin Americans speak Spanish or Portuguese. We have basically the same religions and very common history and traditions. Still, we are very divided. Try to pass a border between any Latin American country and see how much waste time goes there. Try to see how much smuggling is part of life all across our borders.

One of the main reasons for this division has been caudillismo: national interests, specially those of the military castes and the local caudillos, have trumped it all. Then there are ideologies or pseudo-ideologies. Chávez claims, for instance, to be a promotor of Latin American integration, but if anything, he has been one of the main factors for division: he wants it his way, which is mostly based on resentment and his curious mixed of military obsessions and ideology, with a lot of show and zero policies for sustainable development. You don't become more independent just by changing your clients and destroying further your own industry. Cuba has also been another obstacle for unity: Latin American countries have remained divided in their approach towards the island. As the United States has taken a very blind and silly approach towards Cuba, many Latin American countries have taken a similarly stupid approach and decided to be silent about the Cuban dictatorship - out of a false sense of solidarity. In this sense, Latin American countries have reacted towards the Castro clan as African countries did towards Mugabe in Zimbabwe.

Still, I wonder: would the US and the EU be interested in Latin America becoming a cohesive union, something even more cohesive than the EU?

Let's see:

  1. would they be able to sell as many weapons to a Latin American Union as they do now to the different military forces throughout Latin America?
  2. would they have the same clout regarding trade agreements, specially when it comes to subsidies and import tarifs?
  3. would they have the same weight when pretending to be interested in a "War on Drugs" while paying for more and more cocaine?
  4. would their security firms and defence machineries earn as much if the War on Drug is suddenly solved?
 One day, we will have to discuss how to promote real integration in Latin America.
 Tenemos que hacerlo. We will have to discuss things like: what is actually Latin America? Is there a common identity that should trump anything else for its own sake or is Latin Americanness a useful practicality? What common grounds do we have with the rest of the world and how can we help to produce a fairer international community?


  1. If Latin America wants to integrate the US can't stop them from doing so any more than Russia can stop the EU. Also it is a very long term plan because there are still so many disputes between various LA countries such as Bolivia and Chile. LA reaching even an EU level of integration is generations off given the staggering different levels of development.

    Also I don't think it makes sense for LA to go after the US over cocaine demand... Brazil is a huge consumer as well. Its a scourge everywhere.

  2. The US does have an influence over Latin America Russia did not have over the European Union. And the US has toppled presidents, promoted dictators for a long time already. Of course, different groups in L.A. play along. I agree it is a long way to go, but we need to take it.

    "Also I don't think it makes sense for LA to go after the US over cocaine demand..."
    I don't think the US has anything, anything to say to Latin America about cocaine. It is by far the main importer of cocain. The "war on drugs" is more "War to promote Drug Dealers and companies that earn money by offering security services and weapons for the war on Drugs"

  3. Russia used to topple leaders in Europe as well! Back during the cold war... Prague Spring? But the ideology that pushed those interventions is dead in Russia, the cold war is over. Similarly, the ideology that lead the US to intervene in South America (anti-Communism) is dead in the US.

    Toppling leaders in South America, especially and without question any democratically elected leaders, is totally a non starter for the US for many reasons, both domestic and international. Do you think the US is going to topple a democratically elected leader in South America to stop south American integration? If not, then it seems just as odd to bring up the cold war history of the US in the Americas as it would be to bring up the actions of Soviet Russia in regards to Europe.

    If anything, the situation in Honduras makes it clear how hyper sensitive South America is to even the appearance of US involvement.

    Also, I was agreeing on Cocaine, I'm not saying the US should criticize south America for it's consumption, just that South America, as a big consumer of Cocaine itself, should cool down on criticizing US consumption and drug laws. Most South American countries have strict drug laws too, yet they criticize the US for the same policies they themselves vigorously enforce.

    Otherwise, I agree, tighter integration in South America would be great. The US certainly isn't going to stop it, had it been interested in doing so, the US would have done something to stop UNASUR. Then again, maybe the US was betting on Chavez undoing UNASUR all by himself.

    PS. Wie viele Deutscher gibt es in Venezuela? Verscheindlich darf es nicht allzuviel sein (Ich hab' Deutsch als Kind gelernt in der Schule)

  4. NorskeDiv,

    With Europe here I was referring to Western Europe. Evidently, Eastern and part of Central Europe were completely under the Soviet Union's control, not just through the top, but with tanks and all.
    By far the biggest mess in Latin America is caused by Latin Americans themselves. Still, when you have a group of nations where 90%> of the population were illiterate and you have another nation - the new USA - where 90%> were literate and that other nation starts to expand, you have some conflict and different starting conditions. The whole development of the Americas from 1820 to 1930+ was characterized by that: an Empire growing on the costs of others with a couple of others also meddling in the development of Latin American nations. Again, I know it was mostly the Latin American's fault who destroyed their opportunities and their elites, who acted as permanent compradores. Still: it is a vicious circle.

    You are right now, in the XXI Century, the US cannot risk any longer to to topple presidents in Latin America, at least not in a direct way. Influences are played in a less direct manner - and not only by the States, but by Venezuela and Brazil in South America or France in Africa on a much blatant scale.

    Drugs: it is true drug consumption in Latin America has skyrocketed. The issue is not "we don't do that" or "you do more drugs than we do". The problem is that the "War on Drugs" we have been carrying out for many decades now is promoted, rather forced to us by the US and Europe.
    Were a to change its policy and say "we legalize trade", we are not going to be wasting our resources in that, we will offer the drugs in controlled ways in clinics, etc, it would become a pariah.

    Who wins with all this? The military and security/weapons companies and we know how linked they are with governments, plus the drug dealers.

    The last numbers I had was that there were some 8000 with a pass and 10000 with strong links through family etc (relatives who could get the pass, former Germans in those times they would not care for a German pass, etc).
    The commercial links are stronger, though.

  5. 1. The notion that Chavez and Cuba are obstacles to Latin American unity are absurdities which reflect ideological blindness from the part of the writer, and completely contradicts reality, specially considering that CELAC will be officially inaugurated this year in Caracas, and the recent agreements with Colombia. The Cuban dictatorship is being influenced to change, but it is being done in private discussions as not to create unnecessary tensions. The issue of Cuba is not dividing the region as the writer claims. As for the U.S. or E.U. being interested in a Latin American Union: I couldn't care less what outsiders to the region think on the matter.

  6. I think you are the one who is blind. While the military man Hugo is rejecting pluralism for Venezuela and is always trying to impose his pseudo-ideological vision on the weaker countries around, there is no chance those meetings will serve for anything but to waste Latin America's money in photograph sessions with presidents.

    It is not what they think. It is about what they do, as anyone with brains knows, one needs to take that into account, if only if it is to take precautions about external forces trying to mingle in, as they always do, as even Brazil does in Africa, as China does in South America and everywhere, as any one power does anywhere.

    Chavez and the Castro clan are by far the main hindrance, together with the US, for Latin America cooperation and integration.


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